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St. Louis Truck Accident Lawyers

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An accident involving a tractor-trailer or commercial truck is usually much more complicated than a car crash. One has to understand the reasons for trucking accidents and the relationships among the driver, the owner, the leasing company, and the company connected to the cargo of the truck.

If you’re involved in a truck accident in Missouri, it’s important to contact an attorney who has knowledge of the intricacies of the trucking industry, including the current federal regulations. Attorneys with specific experience handling truck accidents have resources available that can help prove unlawful or negligent behavior on the part of the trucking company or truck driver. It may be necessary to hire an accident reconstructionist or trucking industry expert to help prove your case. The large majority of truck accident cases end in settlement and a truck accident attorney in St. Louis can take steps to ensure that you end up with the full compensation to which you’re entitled.

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, St. Louis personal injury attorney Christopher Dixon may be able to help. Contact The Dixon Injury Firm today.

Finding Help After A Tractor Trailer Accident

Carrying the weight of the U.S. economy, tractor-trailers transport nearly 70% of all freight moved in the United States annually. Over two million trucks share the roadway, logging in more than 130 billion miles traveled every year. With this many trucks operating in the United States, it’s no surprise there are nearly 500,000 truck accidents involving tractor-trailers annually, resulting in 5,000 deaths. Every sixteen minutes someone is injured or killed in a tractor-trailer related crash

Tractor-trailers typically weigh between 50,000 and 80,000 lbs. More than 20 times the weight of the average sedan, tractor-trailers require 40 percent longer to come to a complete stop. A fully loaded tractor-trailer traveling at 65 mph requires more than 500 feet to stop; that’s over the length of a football field. With an average length of 70 feet, these massive vehicles lack the maneuverability of smaller cars, making it difficult to avoid hazards on the road such as accidents, or debris. Because of the sheer size and weight of tractor-trailers, significant damage is almost always done to the passenger vehicle involved in a crash. In fact, reports show that 98% of related deaths occur to the occupants of the passenger vehicle.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

“The Large Truck Causation Study” performed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration revealed the true causes of large truck accidents. The research included 1,127 large trucks and 959 motor vehicles. The deaths in these accidents were 251 and injuries were 1,408.

The study revealed some notable insights into why these accidents happen:

  • The use of drugs was responsible for 26% of the accidents. This includes prescription drugs and illegal drugs that affected the driver’s reaction time. Drugged driving is an enormous problem across the United States.

  • Speeding was a factor in 23% of the truck accidents. The force of impact from an 80,000-pound truck increases with speed.

  • Truck drivers are often unfamiliar with the areas they travel and 22% of the accidents involved a driver that was not familiar with the road.

  • In 14% of the accidents, at least one cause was the driver’s failure to check blind spots.

  • Truck driver fatigue was present in 13% of the accidents.

  • It is not unusual for a driver to forget safety measures. In 9% of the accidents, the driver failed to use a turn signal.

  • According to the study, 8% of the accidents involved distracted driving.

  • Big trucks are difficult to maneuver and 7% of the accidents were the result of drivers who underestimated the level of evasive action needed.

  • Aggressive driving was present in 7% of the accidents.

Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident

A commercial truck driver isn’t always the at-fault driver, but when they are, the damage can be catastrophic. Proving negligence is the overall goal of a truck accident lawyer. You determine negligence by determining who is at-fault with provable evidence.

The amount of compensation you can get in a truck accident varies. It’s based on general and special damages but, keep in mind, you may be able to sue the driver’s employer. The damages you can claim are based on the above bullet point list, though there are other factors at play. If an insurer refuses to pay and the claim escalates to a case, a jury might find a victim’s injuries or the implications of those injuries to be worth much more than originally proposed in a demand letter.

18-Wheeler Accidents Cause Serious Injuries & Infrastructure Damage

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer asked the Department of Transportation to investigate the connection between commercial truck bridge accidents and GPS systems. The use of GPS navigational devices are popular among truck drivers and are of great concern as truck bridge strikes are increasing. Many truckers follow the route suggested by a GPS device and ignore warning signs of low-clearance bridges. Bridge strikes are the cause of traffic slamming into the back of the trucks and damage done to the bridges above.

It is difficult for the infrastructure to support bigger trucks. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials showed that many ramps on even Interstate Highways were unable to accommodate the off-tracking, swept path width of a tractor-trailer pulling a forty-eight-foot long semi-trailer and the trucks intrude into the traffic lanes used by cars, which is potentially dangerous.

Accidents involving trucks are a serious concern. The Study of Characteristics and Evaluations of Factors Associated with Large Truck Crashes found that eighty-one percent of truck accidents resulted in a fatality.

Talk to Our Truck Accident Lawyers in St. Louis Today

If you have been the victim of a commercial truck accident and need a lawyer to assess your case, you will need real-time assistance. This is why you’ll want The Dixon Injury Firm by your side.

We can help you gather copies of the negligent truck driver’s driving logs, on-board recording devices, and evidence from the accident so we can file a claim against the at-fault driver and the trucking company.

To begin, call us at (314) 208-2808 and schedule your free case review. We are always here to help.

Who Is Liable If I’m Injured in a Collision With a Commercial Truck?

Motor vehicle accident cases are complex. Many factors determine who is at fault. Since truck crashes often result in serious injury cases to the motorist, often with little or no harm to the truck driver unless the cab overturns, many injured motorists consider the truck driver completely responsible.

However, if you are injured in a collision with a commercial truck, a court will only hold the truck driver liable under situations in which negligence can be proven, such as:

  • The truck driver drove in an erratic way that violated state traffic laws

  • The truck driver was distracted and not paying attention to the road

  • The truck driver’s judgment was compromised by drugs, alcohol, or excessive fatigue

  • The truck had a mechanical problem

  • The truck driver was drowsy or had violated hours of service laws

Furthermore, even if the truck driver clearly caused the accident, third parties could also be liable. The trucking company could be liable for giving the truck driver back-to-back assignments that resulted in driver fatigue or the cargo loaders could be liable for failing to load the truck properly causing it to swerve too heavily on one side when turning a corner.

Trucking companies are often negligent for improper training or hiring dangerous drivers who should not be on the road in the first place.

Damages You Can Receive After a Truck Accident

Like most truck accident cases, you can claim damages for a number of different reasons. Here’s a brief list of the different types of compensation you can win in truck accidents:

  • Current and future accident-related medical expenses and rehabilitation

  • Any property damage done to the vehicle or other possessions

  • Lost wages and the loss of future earning potential

  • Pain and suffering due to long-term physical and emotional damage

  • General damages such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of companionship

  • The severity and implications of your injuries

General Types of Tractor Trailer Accidents

While specifics may vary, generally most crashes involving tractor-trailers fall into one of six categories:

  • Turns: Trucks require ample time and space during turns – often neither is available.

  • Underrides: Often drivers of passenger vehicles do not stop in time, causing an underride.

  • Stopped trucks: Stopped or broken down trucks are often struck.

  • Rear-end collisions: Trucks need ample time to stop. Slowed or suddenly stopped vehicles are often rear-ended by tractor-trailers.

  • Improper maneuvers: Failure to stay within a lane, failure to stop/yield, failure to use a turn signal.

  • Cargo shifts: Improperly or overloading a truck can cause a truck to overturn or jackknife.

While not all crashes can be prevented, there are many things we can do as drivers to help avoid collisions with tractor-trailers, such as:

  • Keep a safe distance: Refrain from tailgating or cutting off a tractor-trailer

  • Stay visible: Tractor-trailers have large blind spots – if you cannot see the driver, they cannot see you

  • Turn signals: Always use your turn signal and never changes lanes abruptly

  • Give trucks wider berth: Trucks need more time to accelerate and have upwards of nine gears to shift through

  • Avoid road rage: Never instigate road rage or retaliate

  • Pull completely off the road: In the case of an emergency, pull completely off the road and use your hazard lights to alert other drivers

The average cost of a tractor-trailer crash is estimated to be $59,000, costing Americans nearly $20 billion each year.

Additional Contributing Factors

A large number of fatal truck accidents are often caused by a combination of factors. One of the factors is the lack of another driver’s understanding of how to share the road with big trucks. Trucks are known to carry large loads. It is possible that the cargo can shift and cause jackknifing and rollovers. Cargo that falls off the truck can cause accidents and it is extremely important for trucking companies to properly secure their load. Adverse weather conditions can contribute to 18-wheeler accidents. Braking and controlling a truck is difficult when there is ice on the road. Snow, rain, and fog decrease visibility. Studies found that a large number of truck accidents involve inexperienced drivers. Mechanical problems are also a cause of truck accidents. Semi-trucks need much more maintenance, due to the constant long distances trucks travel. Trucks are required to be checked for mechanical problems regularly but are still a cause of accidents.

Facts About Truck Accidents

  • When Can an Employer Be Held Liable?

    An employer may be held responsible if the employee was driving the vehicle for the employer’s business purpose. This is referred to as “vicarious liability.”

  • Will My Truck Accident Case Settle or Go to Trial?

    Generally speaking, most vehicle accident cases settle before a lawsuit is filed if an experienced attorney is hired from the outset of the case. However, these are just statistical averages and some cases need to be tried to a jury if the insurance company is refusing to take responsibility. 

  • How Do You Settle a Truck Accident Claim?

    The first step is to submit a demand letter to the driver’s insurer and/or employer. The demand letter should include any financial damages you’ve suffered due to the accident (medical bills, lost time at work, etc.) on top of why the negligent party was the at-fault driver. The insurer may accept your offer, send a counteroffer, or ignore you entirely. Don’t accept the first offer an insurance company gives you. If your initial claim is low, insurance companies or the at-fault person will take advantage and might just pay it. It’s important to contact a St. Louis truck accident attorney as soon as possible to make sure you get the maximum reimbursement. The Dixon Injury Firm has extensive experience in commercial trucking accidents and other auto accidents that result in serious injuries or death.

  • When Are Third Parties Liable?

    After a trucking accident, people often assume that the truck driver is liable. However, the situation is far more complex. First, the trucking company could be liable for insufficient driver training, for giving the driver an exhausting schedule, or for poor vehicle maintenance. Next, the cargo loaders could be liable for negligence in loading the cargo. Finally, the truck manufacturer could be liable for a design defect in their vehicle.

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